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8777Eid Mubarak: London's Multicultural `Eid

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  • Zafar Khan
    Oct 1, 2008
    • 0 Attachment
      In pictures: Celebrating Eid

      http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/in_pictures/7644659.stm
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      London's Multicultural `Eid
      By Hadi Yahmid, IOL Correspondent
      Tue. Sep. 30, 2008

      http://www.islamonline.net/servlet/Satellite?c=Article_C&cid=1221720473416&pagename=Zone-English-News/NWELayout

      LONDON — Different attires. Different cuisines. Different languages. Still, one `Eid Al-Fitr celebrated by Britain's sizable, multiethnic Muslim community.
      Muslim Londoners dressed differently for the celebration of the three-day `Eid, which began on Tuesday, September 30.

      In East London, home to a concentration of Pakistani community, the traditional sari and punjabi suits hold sway.

      Across the city to the north in Edgware Road, where the Arab community dominates, women wear their new abayas and men are in their best jilbabs.

      `Eid cuisines also reflect the different cultural and ethnic backgrounds of Muslim Londoners.

      In the region around East London Mosque, Pakistani and Bengali families celebrate are cooking Jalebi, a puffy fritters fried and then soaked in syrup.

      In North London, the traditional Turkish dessert Hazer Baba is the favorite `Eid desert.

      In East London's West Ham street, the scene sums it all.

      On one side, Pakistani-origin Shaban sells Karachi-made sari to last-minute `Eid shoppers.

      In the shop right door, Shaker, who has Iraqi background, is busy selling different kinds of traditional Arab sweets.

      Britain is home to a sizable, multi-ethnic Muslim minority of nearly 2 million, mainly from Pakistani, Bengali and Indian backgrounds.

      United in Park

      But irrespective of cuisines and clothes differences, Muslim Londoners are united in one big `Eid celebration.

      Thousands will pack Trafalgar Square in central London on Saturday, October 11, for a `Eid gala organized for the third year on.

      The celebration is organized by the umbrella Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), supported by the Mayor of London and produced in association with the London-based international charity Islamic Relief.

      Londoners from all racial backgrounds, Muslims and non-Muslims, are invited to the gala which will include a street bazaar, various food stalls and exhibitions.

      Visitors this year will be able to enjoy live entertainment from many performers, nasheed groups and singers, including the world renowned Sami Yusuf.

      This year's gala will also feature interactive workshops about Islam in Britain.

      Video displays will introduce to the audience how multicultural and diverse the British Muslim community is.

      Shaker, the sweets vendor, cites the `Eid gala as a manifestation of diversity and unity.

      "The differences in our food, clothes and tongues do not matter.

      "What is important is that we all celebrate `Eid together."
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      Pakistan `Eid Exodus
      By Aamir Latif, IOL Correspondent
      Tue. Sep. 30, 2008

      http://www.islamonline.net/servlet/Satellite?c=Article_C&cid=1221720471957&pagename=Zone-English-News/NWELayout

      KARACHI — Hundreds of thousands of Pakistanis find `Eid Al-Fitr not only a bounty of Ramadan but also a golden opportunity to see their families and friends once a year.
      "It is absolutely a great time. I wait for this moment for the whole year," Zahid Maqsood, an electrician at a local company in Karachi, told IslamOnline.net.

      A huge bag filled with gifts and clothes for his wife, three children and other family members cling to Maqsood’s shoulder as he awaits a train bound to his hometown Multan, located in southern Punjab province and known as the city of shrines.

      "I see the faces of my children and other family members after a year. Definitely, I am more than happy," he said.

      Hundreds of thousands of people belonging to far flung areas of Pakistan work in big cities to earn their livelihood due to unavailability of employment in their respective towns and villages.

      Railway and bus stations in Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad are jam-packed with people heading back to their hometowns for `Eid Al-Fitr.

      Pakistan Railway and the Pakistan International Airlines operate additional trains and flights to cope with the number of people intending to visit their families back home during the `Eid season.

      Traditional means of public transport including cabs, vans and mini-buses ply round the clock to carry passengers to inter-city bus terminals, railway stations and airports in Karachi, Lahore, and Rawalpindi/Islamabad.

      The government has already announced a four-day holiday to make it easier for civil employees and those working in the private sector to travel back to their hometowns and villages.

      Yearly Trip

      Like hundreds of thousands of fellow Pakistanis, Maqsood makes the trip back home every `Eid.

      "I cannot afford to visit my family for more than once a year," noted the electrician who earns Rs 7000 (100 US dollars) a month, of which he sends Rs 4000 to his family back home.

      "If I visit my family more than once, my whole budget will be disturbed."

      A government report says that 20 percent of Pakistanis live under poverty line as grinding poverty and backbreaking inflation have made life miserable for a common man.

      However, independent sources put this percentage at 34.

      "A week which I spend with my family keeps me alive for the whole year," added an emotional Maqsood.

      Though several trains bound to different up-country destinations are being plied every hour, hundreds of passengers travel sitting on the rooftops of the trains risking their lives.

      "I know it’s dangerous but I have no other option," says Zahid Hussein, a young laborer sitting on the rooftop of a bogey.

      "I am desperate to see my mother."

      "You can be hit by a car or killed while crossing the road or walking on a footpath any time. You never know. Allah Malik hay ( Allah is my savior)."

      Hailing from Bahawlpur, another southern Punjab city, Hussein travels to his hometown once a year.

      "No time is better than `Eid Al-Fitr to visit your family. It’s the time when my family members and friends who work in different cities come to their homes," he explains.

      "It’s more than fun to meet your childhood fiends after a year," adds an excited Hussein.

      People not only from the Middle East but also from Europe, the far East and even the US and Canada come to their hometowns to celebrate `Eid Al-Fitr.

      "I have come from Saudi Arabia after two years to celebrate `Eid with my family," said Nafees Rana, a resident of Faisalabad, a city named after then King Faisal of Saudi Arabia in 1975.

      "I am more desperate than the people who work inside Pakistan and go back to their homes after a year, because they have at least access to their family whereas we cannot come back to our homes any time we want due to our contracts," noted Rana who works as a painter in the Saudi city of Hyle.

      "The attraction to be in Saudi Arabia during Ramadan and `Eid is undoubted, but the charm of celebrating `Eid with your children is irresistible."
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      South Asian `Eid on Wednesday, Thursday
      By IOL Staff
      Tue. Sep. 30, 2008

      http://www.islamonline.net/servlet/Satellite?c=Article_C&cid=1221720479427&pagename=Zone-English-News/NWELayout

      ASIAN CAPITALS — While many countries in the Arab and Gulf region started celebrating `Eid al-Fitr on Tuesday, September 30, Muslims in South and Southeast Asia will start the three-day celebrations on Wednesday and Thursday.
      Pakistan's Central Ruet-e-Hilal Committee announced on Tuesday night that the Shawwal moon has been sighted from many parts of the South Asian Muslim country.

      Mufti Munib-ur-Rehman, the committee chairman, confirmed that `Eid al-Fitr will be celebrated on Wednesday, October 1.

      `Eid in the Muslim-majority disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir will also be celebrated on Wednesday.

      The grand Mufti of Kashmir, Basheeruddin, linked the decision to "the clear evidence of sighting the new moon."

      The Indonesian government has also declared Wednesday as the start of ` Eid after the teams deployed to nine areas across the country did not sight the new moon.

      "Syawal will begin on Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2008," Religious Affairs Minister Maftuh Basyuni said after presiding over a meeting to determine the date for ` Eid on Monday.

      Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) and Muhammadiyah, the country's two largest Muslim organizations, have agreed on the start of ` Eid on Wednesday.

      In neighboring Malaysia, the Keeper of the Rulers' Seal has also confirmed that `Eid Al-Fitr (Hari Raya Puasa) will be celebrated as of Wednesday.

      In the small Southeast Asian island state of Singapore, the Islamic religious council (MUIS) said the first day of the three-day religious festival falls on Wednesday based on astronomical calculations.

      Thursday Too

      Other countries in the region will, however, celebrate `Eid a day later.

      Millions of Muslims in India will celebrate `Eid on Thursday after the new moon could not be sighted.

      "The moon of Shawwal-ul-Mukarram was not sighted anywhere in India," Syed Ahmed Bukhari, Shahi Imam of Delhi Jama Masjid, announced Tuesday.

      "There will be another day of fasting Wednesday. The `Eid will be celebrated Insha Allah on Thursday."

      In Bangladesh, the National Moon-Sighting Committee announced Tuesday that `Eid will be celebrated as of Thursday.

      The committee was not able to sight the Shawwal moon in 64 districts all over Bangladesh on Tuesday.

      Muslims in the Philippines and Afghanistan had already celebrated the first day of `Eid Al-Fitr on Tuesday.

      Manila's Office on Muslim Affairs (OMA) said the new moon was sighted Monday, making Tuesday the first day of `Eid.

      The Afghan Supreme Court confirmed Monday that `Eid will be observed on Tuesday based on moon-sighting in Saudi Arabia.

      Moon sighting has always been a controversial issue among Muslim countries, and even scholars seem at odds over the issue.

      One group says that Muslims everywhere should abide by the lunar calendar of Saudi Arabia.

      A second, however, believes that the authority in charge of ascertaining the sighting of the moon in a given country (such as Egypt's Dar al-Iftaa [House of Fatwa]) announces the sighting of the new moon, then Muslims in the country should all abide by this.
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      Afghan `Eid…New Clothes, Busy Tailors
      IslamOnline.net & News Agencies
      Mon. Sep. 29, 2008

      http://www.islamonline.net/servlet/Satellite?c=Article_C&cid=1221720446765&pagename=Zone-English-News/NWELayout

      KABUL — With `Eid ul-Fitr around the corner, preparations for the celebration are in full swing, with markets, clothes shops and cookie stalls in Kabul doing brisk trade.
      But tailors remain the busiest, working around the clock to satisfy customers who want new clothes for `Eid.

      "It's good business but it makes us very tired and very impatient," Mobin Frough, a 24-year-old tailor in the capital Kabul, told Agence France Presse (AFP) on September 29.

      Frough and his two other young men are squeezed into a one-room shop in northern Kabul, working round the clock at their sewing machines.

      "I have worked as a tailor for 10 years, so I can do it," says red- and bleary-eyed Frough.
      Across the city, Safar Mohammad, 22, stands in his tiny shop at a sewing machine that is hand-operated, with a measuring tape around his neck.

      Just like Frough, the line between day and night is blurred for Mohammad who will stay up sewing almost all night for the next few days, snatching only few hours of sleep in the early morning.

      It's no an easy task since electricity is irregular and can be available just a few hours a day.

      However, Mohammad is willing to defy the odds to satisfy customers who want their `Eid clothes ready as quickly as possible.

      High Demand

      This is boom time for Kabul's tailors, with many Afghans getting at least one new outfit for the three-day `Eid.

      "The orders are really high," Habibullah Walizada, who has a larger operation in a wealthy Kabul area close to parliament, told AFP.

      "And they want them on time, so we have to work really hard," added Walizada, who has a staff of 20 men working almost non-stop.

      About half of his customers have chosen Western-style jackets and trousers for `Eid. Others still prefer the traditional wear.

      Aisha, 40, says she has had four punjabi suits -- Indian-style long tops and loose trousers -- made for this year's `Eid.

      "Some women will spend 100 dollars, some make six outfits and then everywhere they go they will change," she says as she stands in the tailor's shop waiting for her clothes.

      Mohammad, the tailor in the tiny Kabul shop, says that even his small business has seen a deluge of orders, making about 100 outfits this `Eid.

      He earns during the `Eid season about five times that of the rest of the year.

      "This is the time we have to work hard to make money."
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      Gaza `Eid Made in Egypt
      By Ola Attallah, IOL Correspondent
      Tue. Sep. 30, 2008

      http://www.islamonline.net/servlet/Satellite?c=Article_C&cid=1221720476309&pagename=Zone-English-News/NWELayout

      GAZA CITY — Walking down the market in his Gaza neighborhood, hajj Abu Murad was baffled. A few days ago the market was almost deserted with shelves left empty because of the long-running Israeli blockade.
      Now the shelves are stuffed and the shops are buzzing with shoppers and buyers.

      "At first I thought the Israelis have finally opened the crossings," he told IslamOnline.net.

      "Then I realized they are all Egyptian goods."

      This year, Gaza is celebrating `Eid Al-Fitr, which began in the Palestinian territories on Tuesday, September 30, with a deluge of Egyptian goods arriving through tunnels dug across the Gaza-Egypt border.

      Since Israel sealed off the impoverished coastal strip more than a year ago, smuggling basics through tunnels has become the only way for its besieged 1.6 million population to survive.

      "You can get whatever you want through the tunnels," says Iyad, a merchant in a Gaza market.

      "For the time being, what people need are `Eid goods."

      But this has cost many precious lives.

      Some 45 Palestinians have been killed this year, after being crushed or suffocated in the underground tunnels that run along Gaza's 14-km border with Egypt.

      Israel has been closing the Gaza Strip's exits to the outside world since Hamas took control of the territory in June 2007 after routing rival Fatah.

      An Egyptian-brokered truce between Israel and Palestinian factions in Gaza was supposed to ease the Israeli closure.

      But Israel is still closing all the Gaza crossings and allowing only limited humanitarian goods.

      Lifeline

      The tunnels provided a vital lifeline for Gazans who have nearly forgotten the taste of `Eid joy.

      "My kitchen was almost empty and there was nothing to buy in the markets for months," says Um-Amer, who is now stockpiling on Egyptian goods.

      Her neighbor Um-Ali is equally jubilant to find herself able to buy `Eid goods, new clothes and presents to her family.

      "I looked around the markets, searching for good but cheap stuff," said the Gazan mother.

      "Finally I bought new `Eid clothes for all my family."

      Instead of returning empty handed, Hamed Al-Banna is going home with a big smile on his face after he managed to buy new `Eid toys for his kids.

      "The markets were all dead in the past months. But the Egyptian goods breathed new life in it."

      Starting from only few at the start of the siege, there are currently hundreds of makeshift tunnels along the border through which all types of hard-to-find goods are brought to Gaza.

      The Egyptian goods will able Um-Raed to invite friends and neighbors during the three-day celebration.

      "There was not a single glass in my house to offer my guests drinks," she said in a joyous voice after buying a new set.

      "The Egyptians saved our `Eid."
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      Despite Hikes, Malaysians Shop for `Eid
      By Abdul Halim Taib, IOL Correspondent
      Tue. Sep. 30, 2008

      http://www.islamonline.net/servlet/Satellite?c=Article_C&cid=1221720466387&pagename=Zone-English-News/NWELayout

      KUALA LUMPUR — Malaysians are going on their usual shopping spree before `Eid al-Fitr, though they are feeling the pinch of roaring prices this year.
      "O Eid this time is much different than last year," Fahmi Nor’ain, a 22-year-old Parliament Secretary officer, told IslamOnline.net.

      He noted that when oil prices go up the prices of everything else follow.

      The government has decided to cut retail fuel prices after the recent sharp drop in global crude oil prices to ease inflationary pressures ahead of `Eid al-Fitr.

      The move is aimed partly at curbing public frustrations over soaring inflation and will relieve pressure on the central bank from having to raise interest rates.

      This is the second price cut since the government hiked gasoline prices by a stunning 41 percent and diesel by 63 percent in early June to curb a runaway subsidy bill.

      "This year I have to spend RM 80 to buy shoes as compared to RM 50 previously," said Nor’ain.

      The ringgit is currently hovering at 3.40 to the US dollar, down from 3.25 about three months ago.

      He will not be able to buy a pair of shoes for himself and his sister like he used to do every `Eid.

      The government confirmed Monday, September 29, that `Eid al-Fitr (Hari Raya Puasa) will be celebrated as of Wednesday, October 1.

      "Keeper of the Malaysian Rulers' Seal has declared that Hari Raya Puasa for all states in Malaysia will fall on Wednesday, Oct 1, 2008," said an official statement.

      Shopping Spree

      With `Eid around the corner, people in the capital Kuala Lumpur are flocking to various supermarkets and shopping centers.

      The Tuanku Abdul Rahman Road and the area around Masjid India are particular destinations with their shopping malls welcoming large crowds.

      Even foreign tourists join in the shopping spree, frequenting the landmark Ramadan bazaars and shopping malls.

      They are offered a varied collection of types Malay traditional goods like foods, clothes, shoes and handicrafts from various states in Malaysia.

      Though many stores offer special sales during the festive season, prices remain high.

      Suhardi Rashid, 43, will have to spend Rm 1500, compared to RM 700 last year, to buy clothes and shoes for his five daughters.

      He laments that even milk cans have gone up from RM 30 to RM 70.

      Rashid knows that the "drastic" increase in prices may be influenced by world economy, especially the financial crisis in the US.

      Still, he has no choice but to buy at least two sets of new clothes each for his daughters, aging between 2 and 15.
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      Indonesians Risky `Eid Odyssey
      IslamOnline.net & News Agencies
      Mon. Sep. 29, 2008

      http://www.islamonline.net/servlet/Satellite?c=Article_C&cid=1221720454772&pagename=Zone-English-News/NWELayout

      JAKARTA — For millions of Indonesian Muslims, `Eid Al-Fitr is a special time for family reunions after being caught the whole year in the busy life of the city.
      But for those hard hit by economic, the trip back to home villages is very long and sometimes quite risky.

      "It's tiring but cheap," Purwanto, a father of two who works in a paper factory at the capital Jakarta, told Agence France Presse (AFP) on Monday, September 29.

      Purwanto, his wife and two kids are embarking on a 560-kilometre journey from Jakarta to their hometown of Madiun in East Java on a Yamaha 225cc motorbike.

      As they hit the road, Purwanto puts his seven-year-old daughter at the front of the motorbike, while his son sits squashed between him and his wife.

      The kids are all wrapped in jackets to protect them from the wind the road will throw up as the family drives through the night to avoid the blazing tropical sun.

      Millions like Purwanto pack their families on their motorcycles and head to their home villages to celebrate the three-day `Eid vacation, which marks the end of the holy fasting month of Ramadan.

      Long journeys along dangerous roads in stifling heat and dust are no obstacle in the world's most populous Muslim country, where about 70 millions earn less than two dollars a day.

      "The cost is very high if we take a bus. I have to buy four tickets that will cost me 800,000 rupiah ($85.60)," Purwanto explains.

      "With a motorcycle, I only spend about 90,000 rupiah on fuel."

      Bus and train fares sometimes double or even triple ahead of `Eid Al-Fitr due to demand.

      Risky

      Firdaus, a Jakarta native who works with a cleaning service, takes a 12-hour journey from south Jakarta to his wife's home village on Sumatra island on his 125cc Honda scooter.

      The last time he did that his youngest son was only three months old.

      "Thank God everything has gone well," says the 34-year-old father of two.

      "My baby was so quiet during the journey last year, he only cried when the heat was intolerable."

      Official figures show that the number of Indonesians heading home for `Eid on motorbikes has more than tripled over the past five years.

      "We recorded 2.1 million motorcycles leaving Jakarta and its surrounding areas last year," transport official Ahmad Wahyudi told AFP.

      "We predict that will increase to 2.5 million this year."

      However, officials warn that the motorcycle odyssey could be dangerous.

      According to police figures, three-quarters of the 789 people killed in road accidents in Indonesia last `Eid were riding motorcycles.

      Officials warn that the scooter-style motorcycles favored by Indonesians are not designed for long journeys and that driver fatigue on long journeys could be a major cause of fatal accidents.

      "It's their right to ride motorcycles, we can't ban them from doing so," said National police traffic director Yudi Sushariyanto.

      "We only give them some recommendations for safe riding."

      But for people in the vast archipelagic nation, where millions already suffer from rising food and energy costs, they have little choice.

      "Everything is expensive and it's a must for my wife to spend Lebaran [`Eid] with her family," said Firdaus.

      Purwanto, the paper factory worker, says the journey is worth the trouble.

      "We have to go home to see my parents and relatives. It's only once a year."
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      The Empire State Building Shines Green for Muslim Holiday Eid
      Last update: 4:12 p.m. EDT Sept. 29, 2008

      http://www.marketwatch.com/news/story/empire-state-building-shines-green/story.aspx?guid=%7B9A4C4962-0FD1-4D8E-BC1C-C7E932FA90D7%7D&dist=hppr

      NEW YORK, Sept 29, 2008 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- For the second year, the Empire State Building will shine its world-famous tower lights in green on Tuesday, September 30 and Wednesday, October 1, 2008 for its annual celebration of Eid-al-Fitr, the "Festival of Fast-breaking," which marks the end of Ramadan. The lighting for Eid is an annual event in the same tradition of the Empire State Building's yearly lightings for Christmas and Hanukah. The Empire State Building's tower lights are world renowned for celebrating different nationalities, holidays, parades, and events of importance to the world.
      At the end of Ramadan, Muslims throughout the world observe a joyous celebration called Eid-al-Fitr. This holiday marks the completion of a month of intense spiritual renewal and is a time for Muslims to celebrate with family and friends, exchange gifts, and to help those in need. In Islam, the color green symbolizes joy and the importance of nature.
      During the holy month of Ramadan, Muslims around the world observe a strict fast from sunrise until sunset, participate in prayer, give to charity and demonstrate acts of kindness.
      About the Empire State Building
      Soaring 1,454 feet above Midtown Manhattan, the Empire State Building is the "World's Most Famous Office Building." With new investments in infrastructure, public areas and amenities, the Empire State Building has attracted first-rate tenants in a diverse array of industries from around the world. The skyscraper's robust broadcasting technology supports all major television and FM radio stations in the New York metropolitan market. The Empire State Building was named America's favorite building in a poll conducted by the American Institute of Architects. The Empire State Building Observatory is one of the world's most beloved attractions and is the region's #1 tourist destination. For more information on the Empire State Building, please visit www.esbnyc.com.
      Contact: Empire State Building
      esbpr@...
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      Muslims unite to pray and party for Eid
      October 1, 2008 - 11:29AM

      http://news.theage.com.au/national/muslims-unite-to-pray-and-party-for-eid-20081001-4rly.html

      Thousands of NSW Muslims are feasting and praying in celebration of the end of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting.

      Premier Nathan Rees early Wednesday joined around 3,000 Muslims for prayers at the Lakemba mosque, in Sydney's southwest, to mark the Islamic festival of Eid.

      Thousands more attended morning prayer sessions in Bicentennial Park at Homebush and at a mosque in Rooty Hill, both in Sydney's west.

      Eid, meaning "happiness" or "feast" in Arabic, is one of the most important dates on the Muslim calendar.

      Because Eid fell on a working day this year, most communal festivities will take place around NSW this weekend.

      Wednesday will for many Muslims be a day to feast, exchange gifts and celebrate with family and friends, said Islamic Council of NSW vice-president Ali Roude.

      "Every mosque in the state and all over Australia is packed with worshippers celebrating the end of Ramadan and the Eid feast, particularly at Lakemba mosque this morning where there was a huge crowd," he told AAP.

      "It is a significant event, an event of joy when families, friends hug each other, kiss each other and they wish each other a prosperous time ahead."

      The best thing about Eid, said Mr Roude, was "seeing the whole community celebrating together".

      Mr Roude, who lives in Greenacre in Sydney's southwest, said he always looked forward to Ramadan.

      "It's a refreshing time," he said.

      "We learn how to become peaceful within ourselves and peaceful with others ... it is the beginning which will lead you to maintain that spirit for the rest of the year."

      Syed Atiq ul Hassan, director of Sydney's Chand Raat Eid Festival, which took place last Sunday to celebrate the eve of Eid, said Ramadan carried important lessons for Muslims.

      "When you don't eat you realise how painful it is to be hungry," he said.

      "You have to feel the message behind (Ramadan), which is that if God has given you facilities, food and money, (you must think of those who) are poor around the world."

      Mr Hassan, who is originally from Pakistan and now lives in Newington in Sydney's west, hosted a party at his house on Wednesday.

      "Because I am heavily involved in the community, I will have 60 or 70 people coming to my house," he said.

      "We have Indian food, we socialise and celebrate ... it's just like Christmas for us."

      Ramadan, which ended on Tuesday night, marks the month in which the Koran was revealed to the Prophet Mohammed.

      During the month, participating Muslims do not eat or drink anything from dawn until sunset.
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      A thoroughly British Eid
      Celebrating Eid-ul-Fitr, when Muslims mark the end of Ramadan, is an especial challenge for the Muslim convert
      Na'ima B. Robert
      September 30, 2008

      http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/faith/article4852628.ece

      The last 10 days have been intense: a crazy schedule of simple iftars (snacks to break the daily fast), early bedtimes (going to bed with the children) and waking again after midnight to pray until suhoor time (the pre-dawn breakfast consumed before sunrise and the daily fast begins). We have been seeking Laylatul-Qadr, the Night of Power, a night that Allah says is better than a thousand months, the night the Qur’an was revealed by the Prophet to the Angel Gabriel (Jibril).

      It is not known for sure when the Night of Power will fall each year – we are told by the Prophet (peace be upon him) that it occurs in the month of Ramadan, in the last 10 days, on an oddly numbered night. So we strive every year to pray and supplicate in the early hours of the morning, hoping to catch the Night of Power.

      Some Muslims have prayed in their homes, reciting what they know of the Qur’an; others have attended the traditional Qiyam prayers in the mosque and prayed in congregation, standing for great lengths of time, often reduced to tears by the recitation of the imam and the prayers for forgiveness, thanks and continued blessings.

      And along with the intense worship of the last 10 days, comes anticipation in the build up to Eid-ul-fitr, the great feast at the end of Ramadan. This time for rejoicing is looked forward to by millions every year, especially children. Eid is one day we are rewarded for enjoying ourselves!

      However, in the UK, celebrating Eid is no simple matter, particularly for converts like me. For the majority of Muslims, Eid-ul-fitr consists of wearing one’s best clothes, spending time with family, and eating copious amounts of food. For Muslims with siblings, cousins, aunts and uncles, grandparents and old family friends, the prospect of a day spent with family may be a welcome one but for a convert with no Muslim family, it may be a disappointing, isolating experience, particularly if there are no welcoming Muslims living nearby. Indeed, the nature of a family Eid is that is excludes those who are not within the family circle – thus leaving single converts to “fend for themselves”.

      Unlike the familiar rituals of Christmas that most converts grew up with, stockings on Christmas Eve, the tree, the presents, the roast turkey and Christmas pudding, Eid presents a series of new and unfamiliar challenges. Aside from the congregational Eid prayer that is attended by Muslim families on the morning of Eid, there are no Muslim-wide practices for converts to adopt as our own. There are no Eid TV specials, no Eid sales in shops, no Eid singles (thank God for that!) – Eid is very much determined by one’s cultural heritage.

      So if your background is not Muslim, you are left wondering just what you should do to celebrate this day. What should you wear? Where should you go? What should you eat? Should you stay at the mosque or go out? Or should you go to the Eid events organised by the Muslim community – the bazaars, fun days, exhibitions or Eid parties? All these can be great fun.

      However, as I have mentioned before, the fact that the daily affairs of the country carry on regardless of the Islamic calendar means that even Eid is something that you have to squeeze in. If your children go to a state school, time off will have to be arranged and work holiday will have to be booked. In fact, the question of how to celebrate Eid if you are a convert takes on an added dimension if you have children, especially as they reach the age where they are aware of the hype surrounding Christmas. This puts parents under even more pressure to make Eid extra special so Muslim children do not feel that they are missing out. This requires creative thinking - outside the box - and meticulous planning.

      Thankfully, the plentiful opportunities for fun family days in most parts of the UK are also a great option for Eid, as are picnics, museum trips and funfairs. Past Eids have seen us booking a country cottage in Wales and these hold such beautiful memories for us. So, what will I be doing this year? Well, so far we have planned decorations for the house, a treasure hunt for the children, complete with me in fancy dress, a moonlit dinner in a tent in the garden and then a mega party for my sisters and I – complete with canapés, ballgowns, party games and a trusty drum or two.

      And with that, I will leave you to your Eid celebrations – or not, as the case may be. Until we meet again, peace…

      Copyright Na'ima B.Robert
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      Thousands throng Dubai Festival City as ‘Eid in Dubai’ celebrations get off to a grand start

      http://www.albawaba.com/en/countries/UAE/236482
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      Egypt tastes Ramadan austerity
      By Yolande Knell
      BBC News, Cairo

      http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/7635677.stm
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